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Dragon's Lair

Dragon's Lair

The Student News Site of Appomattox Regional Governor's School

Dragon's Lair

The Mastery of Songwriting in Joe Masteroff’s She Loves Me

Nathan Do’s review of Beatty Theatre’s musical production of She Loves Me.
Beatty Theatre’s “She Loves Me” flyer.

Love may not be in the air this September, but you know what is? Perfume. If you’re willing to travel back to 1930’s Budapest for a double-life rom-com about two rival parfumerie clerks unwittingly in love with each other, Beatty Theatre’s 2023 musical production of She Loves Me is perfect for you. This is because Joe Masteroff’s She Loves Me is a masterclass in clever humor, and focused music composition.

Quick quips are sprinkled in at such a fast pace that it’s hard to process all of them on the first watch through. By now, I’m probably on my tenth run-through of the show, and I still find jokes that I missed before. Even the jokes I have heard rehearsed tens of times still hit because the actors put so much energy into every last bit of dialogue. One of my favorite lines is when Mr. Kodaly, one of the clerks, is brown-nosing the boss, Mr. Maraczek, about the newly-imported musical cigarette boxes. “It’ll make music lovers out of cigarette smokers,” says Mr. Kodaly, “…and cigarette smokers out of music lovers!” There’s so many hidden gems if you just listen in.  She Loves Me is definitely worth seeing, even just for a laugh.

However, as great as the comedy is, the music is even more impressive. The music is a great feat of melody-first songwriting. I find that a lot of modern musicals take the route of catchiness and funny lyrics over complexity and beauty. There is a place for that, but She Loves Me does the complete opposite; its melodies are absolutely gorgeous and recognizable while using humor as a garnish.

There’s a very Leonard Bernstein’s West-Side-Story-esque aesthetic to the music, and it makes sense why. The music of West Side Story is endlessly iconic in part because it can be absolutely stunning in any instrumentation. It doesn’t rely on the lyrics to make it recognizable—instead, it utilizes odd intervals and harmony to express its themes. 

She Loves Me does the same exact thing. For example, the song “Vanilla Ice Cream” is a very popular choice for classically trained musical theater singers. It has the vocalist glide around their range, and it isn’t afraid to make them work for it. At the climax of the song, there is one particular vocal leap that flutters high above the rest of the song in order to wrap it up in an elegant, silk ribbon. This is just one example of this melody-focused approach working wonderfully—other examples can be found all over.

All in all, She Loves Me is an absolute joy to watch! It’s funny, clever, and absolutely stunning. 

Make sure you go see it this weekend before its last show on Sunday, September 24th!


*Beatty Theatre’s Address: 4300, 1100 Sustainment Ave; Tickets $18.00 for adults, $8.00 for youths; Shows: Friday-Saturday: 8PM, Sunday: 3PM*

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